Truly of those devoted to Me the one I most favour is a believer who is of meagre means and much given to prayer, who has been particular in the worship of his Lord and has obeyed Him inwardly, who was obscure among people and not pointed out, and whose sustenance was just sufficient to provide for him yet he bore this patiently. Then the Prophet (pbuh) rapped his hand and said: Death will have come early to him, his mourners will have been few, his estate scant. [Hadith Qudsi]
Brook Street Cemetery is perhaps one of the most famous cemeteries in Durban. There are many famous personalities that lie buried in the cemetery – people that hailed from respected families, business magnates, scholars, social activists and so on. None of them however, enjoy the respect and veneration that is accorded to His Exalted Eminence Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer, a man who was neither a businessman nor an academic. His family lineage is unknown, and he was shunned by people during his physical life…
One quality however, elevates Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer to a position, which is coveted by all of creation, and has being described by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) thus:
“When Allah loves a person, He calls Jibraeel saying: 'Allah loves so and so; O Jibraeel love him'. Jibraeel would love him, and then Jibraeel would make an announcement to the dwellers of heaven, 'Allah loves so-and so,' therefore all the dwellers of the heavens love him and then he is granted the love of the people on earth.”
Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer (rahmatullahi alaihi) belongs to that category of Awliya Allah who is referred to as majzoob (pl. majazib). Hazrat Makhdoom Ashraf Jahangir al Simnani (rahmatullahi alaihi) in his book Lataaif-e-Ashrafi describing a majzoob states:
A majzoob is he whom Allah accepts for Himself and selects him for the proximity of His court; (and) from His holiness sanctifies him, and bestows him with all bounties of friendship without him having to have undergone great difficulty, arduous effort or intensive searching.
The term ‘majzoob’ is derived from jazb, which means to be ‘absorbed’ or ‘attracted’. The wisdom behind this title of majzoob is to bring to mind the spiritual condition that a saint of this category is in. In keeping with the dictates of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu ‘alaihi wasallam) of:
Practise dhikr so excessively that people may regard you as insane (Baihaqi)
the majzoob becomes ‘absorbed’ in the dhikr of Allah, and through the rapturous condition that is created in his heart by virtue of the dhikr, he loses consciousness of himself. When the nur of the dhikr begins to engulf the person and overwhelms him, then like a cup that overflows, the physical mind and body are ‘attracted’ to the spiritual world, and thus the majzoob is ‘absorbed’ into the spiritual world, whilst physically living in the earthly dimension. That condition can be best likened to a man who is fast asleep – whose body is on the bed, but his soul (ruh) is travelling and moving in the dream world. This category of Awliya Allah has been alluded to in this hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).
Verily Allah loves the (hidden) devout, Allah-concious servants, who, if they are absent are not missed, and if they are around are ignored, and whose company is not sought. This, (in spite of the fact) that their hearts are lamps of guidance that can remove one from the depths of (spiritual) darkness. (Ibn Majah)
A beloved one of Allah is empowered with remarkable abilities by Allah, and using the spiritual energy that is acquired through the dhikr of Allah and bestowed by Allah’s grace, can perform extraordinary feats. This remarkable spiritual ability is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an in an incident of a wali in the era of Sayyiduna Suleiman (alaihi salaam).
He (Sulayman) said: "O chiefs! Which of you can bring for me the throne of Bilqees
before they come to me surrendering themselves in obedience?" And Ifrit from the jinns said:"I will bring it to you before you arise from your place. And verily, I am indeed strong, and trustworthy for such work." One with whom was knowledge of the Scripture said: "I would bring it to you would then before the twinkling of an eye!" - then when Sulayman saw it placed before him, he said: This is by the grace of my Lord to test me whether I will be grateful or un grateful! (27:38-40).
Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer’s spiritual condition was the same, and all the talents and spiritual ‘super-human capabilities’ that are bestowed upon a friend of Allah were found in the personality of Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer.
Conquest of Self=Conquest of the Universe
Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer who arrived from Madras (Chennai) under the pretext of being an indentured labourer would spend his time in dhikr and muraqaba on the sugar cane-fields instead of doing the task appointed to him. However, the supervisor who would see him ‘asleep’ would return in the evening, and to his amazement the quota of work would be completed. Realising that Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer was a unique personality, he was honourably discharged from service. After all, how can a true servant of Allah who in reality is a king (badshah) be a servant of any worldly authority?
It is narrated that there was a party that was on its way to a function in Ladysmith. Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer also requested to join the party. Ignorant people, who regarded Hazrat Badsha Peer as ‘insane’ brushed him off. To their surprise when they reached Ladysmith, they found him there awaiting their arrival!
Insight and Foresight
When Allah draws a majzoob into a dimension wherein he reaches a level of intimacy (uns) with Allah, and thus becomes estranged from himself and the rest of creation; an obvious consequence is that his thinking and will is synchronised to the will of Allah. In this condition the majzoob is exposed to “alam al-amr” (the world of command) wherein whatever Allah has willed to happen is seen by the majzoob. However, the majzoob sees the Being behind the action (Allah) rather than the act itself. He sees Allah in ‘action’ and thus becomes aware of what is to take place. Hazrat Badsha Peer who was privy to this state would often comment to people about events that were to take place, and it would happen as he had foretold.
Be concious of the insight of the believer, for he sees with the light of Allah. (Mishkat)
A group of builders were busy glazing a building in Queen Street, and Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer happened to pass by. He forewarned them of a hailstorm that would cause extensive damage and advised them to delay the glazing. Seeing his outward unkempt, dishevelled condition, they thought him to be a madman. Exactly as he had predicted, the hailstorm destroyed all the glass. The next day he returned, and chastised them for having not listened to him and underestimating him.
Due to the fact that a majzoob is so absorbed in the love of Allah, he forgets to maintain his outward appearance. Hence, some majazib are in a state of undress, have long hair, blood-shot eyes due to lack of sleep. Their outward appearance creates a false impression that they have lost their minds. However, not every madman is a majzoob, and no majzoob is mad. Their outward condition is not due to any mind-altering drugs or insanity. On the contrary,
The secret of madness is the source of reason.
A mature man is insane for Love.
The one who has his Heart together
Is a thousand times stranger to himself.
Mawlana Jalaaluddin Rumi
Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer’s outward condition led many people to underestimate him, and as a result failed to achieve the spiritual benefits from this personality. Seeing the un Islamic way of life of the Muslims, Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer constantly foretold the arrival of a personality who would ‘wield the stick of Shari‘ah– Hazrat Soofie Saheb (rahmatullahi ‘alaihi), and urged the people to follow him. Subsequently, as predicted, Hazrat Soofie Saheb did arrive.
Upon his arrival Hazrat Soofie Saheb visited the cemetery in Brook Street asking people about the whereabouts of the grave of a great saint. Those that remembered the prediction of Hazrat Badsha Peer, decided to test Hazrat Soofie Saheb, and took him to the wrong grave. Hazrat Soofie Saheb immediately contacted Hazrat Badsha Peer spiritually and made his way to the real grave. Respectfully, he removed his cloak and placed it on the grave of Hazrat Badsha Peer as a chaadar as a declaration of his wilaayah. After all, ‘one saint recognises another’. He thereafter took it upon himself to construct the tomb of this beloved of Allah. Hazrat Soofie Saheb subsequently organised the first Urs of Hazrat Badsha Peer to highlight his elevated spiritual status amongst people.
Lover of Allah, Beloved of Allah
Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer’s spiritual condition was such that when all the people would be fast asleep, this lover of Allah would walk the streets of central Durban making the dhikr of Allah at the top of his voice, and he would spend the entire night in that condition.
My work is to weep in the remembrance (dhikr) of the Beloved,
My sleep is to be absorbed in the thought of my Beloved.
Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer had reached a very advanced stage in suluk (spiritual journey to Allah) before being absorbed in sukr (spiritual intoxication), which suspended Hazrat’s suluk. Close to the time of his demise he went around telling people that he was getting married. People didn’t realise that Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer was foretelling his demise, and was using the word ‘wedding’ which is ‘Urs in Arabic to indicate this. Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer in fact invited some people to a meal that he personally prepared before his physical demise to ‘celebrate’ his wedding.
Moulana Fateh Mahomed, who recognised the spiritual state of Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer, would constantly urge him to frequent the Masjid, so that people may recognise his condition. Due to Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer being absorbed in the dhikr of Allah and in a state of sukr and oblivious to earthly time, he was not obliged by Shari‘ah to do so. This is not a general rule and majazib are an exception.
On the day of his demise however, Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer requested Moulana Fateh Mahomed to give him ghusul and take him to the Masjid. Realising that there was something wrong Moulana Fateh Mahomed did so.
After ghusul, he took Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer to Grey Street Masjid. Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer kept on asking whether adhan had been give. At the time of adhan, he was informed. When the muazzin chanted “Ashhad an la ilaaha illallah”, Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer read “Ash hadu anna Muhmmad al Rasulullah” and breathed his last. Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer left this world on Friday the 6th of Rabi ul Awwal.
Posthumously, the acceptance of Hazrat Shaykh Ahmad Badshah Peer in the sight of Allah is apparent by the thongs of people who come to pay homage to him at his tomb. People of all religions, from all walks of life are instinctively drawn to him and find solace at his blessed tomb. As an official symbol of the indelible mark that this servant of Allah has left on the hearts of people for over a century, the area surrounding his blessed tomb has been named Hazrat Badshah Peer Square. May humanity continue to slake its thirst for spiritual grace from the fountain of the ‘King of Guides’ and a guide of kings. Aameen.
by Hafiz Fuzail Soofie